Season 1 goes out with a bang.
The Devil in Me is the final chapter of The Dark Pictures Anthology Season 1 and Supermassive’s second game of 2022, coming hot on the heels of the widely successful The Quarry. While The Devil in Me mightn’t hit those same heights — and that’s largely due to its budget, I’d wager — it is undeniably the best from The Dark Pictures to date.
As we’ve detailed in our extensive preview, The Devil in Me is set in modern day and revolves around a documentary crew of five who are down on their luck. With time and money running out as they scramble to complete a doco about H.H. Holmes, America’s first serial killer, they receive an offer that’s frankly too good to be true. A mysterious benefactor named Granthem Du’Met has recreated Holmes’ infamous World’s Fair Hotel on a remote island and is offering it up as a filming location for free.
As you’d likely expect, the recreation of the famed Murder Castle is a little too accurate — right down to its murderous traps — and Du’Met has lured the film crew to him to become his playthings. What follows is part Saw, part Halloween, and all thoroughly enjoyable.
This relatively simple premise is The Devil in Me‘s real strength, doing away with the possibility of supernatural curses or the larger unexplained. Instead, it leans into a cat and mouse game lead by a sadist in control of an ever-changing maze. While you’ll primarily spend your time walking the hallways of the new Murder Castle, it never feels stale, nor monotonous like House of Ashes’ endlessly bland caves.
The film crew of five have unique personalities and bounce well off of one another. Kate and Mark are trying to work together after a failed relationship, Jamie and Erin could have an on-again, off-again thing going — provided Erin gathers some confidence to stand up for herself and go after what she wants — and boss Charlie knows he’s washed up but doesn’t want to necessarily admit that. There are great moments of joy — or conflict — to be had in terms of interactions amongst the group.
Supermassive has continually refined The Dark Pictures gameplay, and The Devil in Me‘s contributions come in the form of unique character tools and new traversal mechanics. The latter is shown off quite extensively in the game’s prologue, with interactions like climbing, walking across balance beams and repositioning objects to assist in your climbing all clearly onboarded. Supermassive has incorporated a lot of verticality into The Devil in Me, and it makes for a nice change (again, especially compared from walking down a long cavernous nothing in House of Ashes).
Characters’ unique tools are a little trickier. Charlie has a business card he’ll use to pick locks… and at other times, a tie pin that picks locks. Erin has a microphone to hear noises through walls, and Mark has a camera that you’re supposed to frequently pull out to see if something has a green border in the camera UI (if that’s the case, take a picture!). While Charlie’s tools are useful, Erin and Mark’s really are not. In one instance, I plain old forgot that Kate had a pencil on her because I hadn’t needed it at any other point; rather than simply using it to scribble on a notepad to reveal a secret four digit code, I instead fixated on different combinations of the four numbers that were already legible on the pad. Oops.
With the exception of that pencil puzzle, other brain teasers are quite enjoyable, including fuse boxes with instructions written by — clearly — an utter smart-ass of an electrician. While the puzzles are fun, they’ll sometimes transport your character to a different location when you complete them. While that could be helpful to keep you on the path you’re supposed to be travelling, there were times I wanted to stay where I was so that I could explore every nook and cranny of the environment to find premonitions, business cards and other collectibles. On the topic of exploration, there are two major sequences where The Devil in Me is simply way too dark; characters have flashlights, but they’re dim and generally hard to control. The need to bump up brightness to the maximum detracted from any sense of isolation or anxiety that I was supposed to feel.
The Dark Pictures staples like quicktime event button mashing and timing button presses to heartbeats return — take ’em or leave ’em — and a new collectible in the form of a coin can be found and later cashed in for dioramas. I’m not against the idea of this collectible, but I was secretly hoping you’d be able to turn in your coins for in-game do-overs like we’ve seen in The Quarry. While most character deaths are fair thanks to a new, three-tied difficulty system, there’s one encounter that completely robs you of any agency; how you’d know to save the documentary crew without trial and (fatal) error is beyond me… so much so I’ve made a guide for you right here.
Players also have the chance to hide from attackers, which I believe is a new feature within The Dark Pictures. While I understand it adds to tension and agency; the mechanic is inconsistent at times; you’ll need to do it in one scene and then you’ll find your characters scrambling to hide themselves in the next.
While it’s not perfect, The Devil in Me is a clear demonstration that Supermassive is learning from the grand experiment that is The Dark Pictures. It not only finishes Season 1 with a bang, but has me incredibly excited for what’s to come (and please don’t click this link unless you want to know what’s in store for Season 2).
The Devil in Me is available now on Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, PS4 and PS5.
The Dark Pictures The Devil in Me was reviewed using a promotional code on Windows PC via Steam, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.
18 November 2022
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